Maybe we all have one (or maybe more?) of these … mystery cats that grace our gardens and yards with their beautiful but sometimes threatening presence. Oscar himself has a few of these visitors straying into his garden from time to time. Some of these moggies he likes more than others, obvs!
There is one that treats the fence like it is a minor B road – and it gets him from the back garden here right the way over to the front of the house via the one story out-building. From here its a quick step down to the road beyond. He is always just fleeting, and his demeanour seems as if he always has ‘places to be, things to see and do.’ He barely gives us a glance. We’ve named him ‘White Body Black Tail’, which just about covers his appearance.
Another visitor we have named ‘Tuxedo Ted’, again I’m sure you can guess how this one looks. When you see his black fur and bright white bib, they make him look as if he is always dressed for a night at a dinner dance or an opera in the West End. He is a shy and elusive creature, hanging around the bottom of the garden, always just out of sight winding our Oscar up no end. In any standoff it’s Oscar who hightails it out of there.
Now, the favourite of these almost ‘welcome’ guests is a beautiful female feline who (sort of) gets on with Oscar – well, they sniff noses together often, and that is as close as cats can get, short of ‘claws drawn and engaged’… ouch. They’ve been known to sit on opposite sides of the lawn having an ‘stare us out if you can’, ‘eye dance’ moment, until one concedes and the other is King of the patch, (well for an hour anyway….)
This thin but strong, young upstart likes to come and settle in the borders or under the tree. Often sunning herself in the morning rays … oh but wait a minute ….. there she goes again…., we can just make out her rear end and grass-snake tail as it turns right at the corner beneath the pine tree…., but, panic over, it’s our old faithful visitor (You can breathe easily again Osc, no marauding tiger this, just) little Kiera your neighbourhood friend of many a year.
We never feed Kiera or let her in the house. She is already well fed and looked after but has taken a shine to sleeping in our back garden for some reason. When the weather takes a turn for the worse though, she’ll stay home, so and we hardly see her in the Autumn and Winter.
We have called the beautiful cat ‘Kiera’ as she has the eyes of a famous beautiful, English actress. You may quite easily guess who.
Louis Wain was an English artist best known for his drawings, which often featured anthropomorphised large-eyed cats and kittens. However the scope of work was far wider than this. He was a true artist but combined this with an approach to the rendering of his art in a unique and unprecedented style.
Wain was born on the 5th August 1860, so lived to the good age of 79, passing away on 4th July 1939. His father was a textile trader and embroiderer; his mother was French. He was the first of six children, and the only male child. None of his five sisters ever married.
Wain was born with a cleft lip and the doctor gave his parents the orders that he should not be sent to school or taught until he was ten years old. In his later years he may have suffered from schizophrenia (although this claim is widely disputed among many specialists if this is true or not), which, according to some psychiatrists, can be seen in his works.
As a youth, he was often truant from school, and spent much of his childhood wandering around London. Following this period, Louis studied at the West London School of Art and eventually became a teacher there for a short period.
At the age of 20, Wain was left to support his mother and his five sisters after his father’s death.
Wain soon resigned from his teaching position to become a freelance artist, and in this role he achieved substantial success. He specialized in drawing animals and country scenes, and worked for several journals including the Illustrated Sporting and Dramatic News, where he stayed for four years. He also worked for the Illustrated London News from 1886.
Through the 1880s, Wain’s work included detailed illustrations of English country houses and estates, along with livestock he was commissioned to draw at agricultural shows. His work at this time includes a wide variety of animals, and he maintained his ability to draw creatures of all kinds throughout his lifetime. At one point, he hoped to make a living by drawing dog portraits, but he didnt need to …
Wain became one of the most popular commercial illustrators in the history of England. His cats, dogs and other animals captured the imagination of the Edwardian era and his work helped to promote domestic cats to unprecedented heights. Before Wain, cats in England were often thought of with contempt, but his work humanised them and helped to show them as something to be liked, admired and even loved.
His illustrations were so popular that throughout the beginning of the twentieth-century most homes had at least one of his famous cat annuals and many nurseries had Wain posters hanging on their walls. “He made the cat his own” H.G. Wells once remarked. “…he invented a cat style, a cat society, a whole cat world.”
At the age of 23, Wain married his sisters’ governess, Emily Richardson, who was ten years his senior (which was considered quite scandalous at the time), and moved with her to Hampstead in north London. Emily soon began to suffer from breast cancer, and died three years into their marriage. Prior to Emily’s death, Wain discovered the subject that would define his career. During her illness, Emily was comforted by their pet cat Peter, a stray black and white kitten they had rescued after hearing him mewing in the rain one night.
Emily’s spirits were greatly lifted by Peter, and Louis began to draw extensive sketches of him, which Emily strongly encouraged him to have published. She died before this happened, but he continued to make cat sketches. He later wrote of Peter, “To him, properly, belongs the foundation of my career, the developments of my initial efforts, and the establishing of my work.” Peter can be recognized in many of Wain’s early published works.
Andean cats are rare and rarely seen. At last count it was reported that only 1,378 adults exist and those are scattered over more than 150,000 square kilometers (roughly 580,000 square miles) of highlands from northeastern Peru to Patagonia. So when Jacobo showed up there were a few puzzled faces in town.
Jacobo was spotted in the middle of a artificial grass football field in Bolivia, and he was far from anywhere that should have been home. Not knowing what else to do, local people put the Endangered cat in a birdcage to hand it over to authorities.
At first glance no bigger than a housecat, this feline had ended up such a distance from its usual haunts, high-up in the mountains of Chile, Argentina and Peru, that it was and still is, a mystery. However, this extraordinary circumstance gave conservationists a chance to learn about an animal they are dedicated to saving, but had rarely seen.
The Andean cat ranges from remote areas of central Peru to the Patagonian steppe. Perfectly adapted to extreme environments, this small feline is though threatened by habitat degradation and hunting.
Jacobo was lucky in that he was given to the Andean Cat Alliance, and instead of being kept captive, the members agreed there and then to forego the extraordinary opportunity to study the animal it had been gifted, and instead, try to return “Jacobo” to the wild.
Cordinators Rocío Palacios and Lilian Villalba orchestrated the multinational volunteer release effort. Jacobo was first examined to reveal no health problems. The conservationists then equipped Jacobo with a GPS collar in the hope that tracking his travels will reveal new data about this particular secretive cat, and others of his kind.
27th October is ‘National Black Cat Day’ in the UK when Cats Protection highlight, in particular, all the beautiful black cats needing adoption. They have hundreds of them in their centres, so we can’t work out why anybody wouldn’t like to have a black cat as a companion…. they’re just like any other cat, and that’s straight from the horse’s mouth.
National Black Cat Day was created way back in 2011, as Cats Protection statistics showed that black cats were taking longer to rehome than other domestics. This situation has gotten a lot better since then, but of course, there is always room for improvement. This special day was thought up so as to highlight the fact that these black moggies are being forgotten by families taking on a new cat. At the same time lots of happy owners celebrate the beauty of their black cats on this special day. That, reader, includes me (little Oscar).
Anyway, what better day to celebrate the happy story of one black cat called Ruby who was reunited with her happy owner just this month, after being missing for two whole years!
Ruby went missing from her home near Brogborough, close to a major junction and lorry park on the M1 motorway, in April 2018.
About three weeks ago she was found by security guard Leighton Myers on an industrial estate where he works in Coventry. He was feeding Ruby and, with the help of Cat’s Protection, traced her ownership to Jordan Harvey in Bedfordshire, 60 miles away. Mr Harvey drove to Coventry to collect her and Ruby knew him immediately. Just where she was between April 2018 and October 2020 when Mr Myers started feeding her we will never know but she is healthy and happy. Both Ruby and Jordan were over the moon to be re united with each other once again.
If you think that you could give a loving home to a beautiful black cat ( or other) or support in any other way, please have a look at the Cats Protection website below.
The little, spotted Southern Tiger Cat (Leopardus guttulus) aka ‘Southern Little Spotted Cat’ is a fairly new wild cat species native to Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay. When found in the tropical rainforest of southern Brazil it was long referred to as an Oncilla, a Tigrina or a Tiger cat. A study of the cat’s genetics in 2013 found that it wasn’t interbreeding with Oncilla populations and had, as a result, become genetically distinct. So now these ‘Oncilla’ cats are referred to as either Southern Tiger Cats or Northern Tiger Cats (Leopardus tigrinus).
Tiger cats are one of the smallest cat species in the Americas. A fully grown Tiger Cat can range from 1.8 kg to 3.5 kg in weight. They are nimble and extremely sleek animals, with a narrow but stocky head and neck, muscular shoulders and very large ears. The irises are golden or light brown. Males are generally larger than females. The fur of the Southern Tiger cat has a yellowish-brown ground colour, with large, rounded open rosettes of camouflage. Melanism is common. The paler belly fur is covered with dark spots.
The Tiger Cat’s fur is thick and short and does not turn forward in the nape region as it does on the Ocelot and Margay. Limbs are spotted on the outside and the long tail has spots at the root, developing into irregular rings with a black tip. The tail is short measuring just 60% of the head and body length.
The Southern Tiger cat ranges from Central to southern Brazil, eastern Paraguay and north-eastern Argentina. The northern limits of its geographic range are still unclear, so whether it overlaps with Northern Tiger Cats and to what extent is still not known. Sources state it reaches Central Brazil in the states of Minas Gerais, Goiás and the Atlantic forest of central-south Bahia in the northeast region.
The Southern Tiger cat occurs in a variety of habitats, from dense tropical and subtropical rainforests, deciduous/semi-deciduous, and mixed pine forests, to the open savannah, and beach vegetation. In the Pantanal (wet/swampy savannah), it is very rare and has been recorded only in the dry savannas, but not in the marshy areas.
The Southern Tiger cat also inhabits disturbed areas such as agricultural fields where there is an abundance of rodents but its occurrence is limited by the presence of natural cover. Both telemetry information and scat analysis indicate the cats do not venture into disturbed areas, but only skirt around their borders, where it has been shown that Rodent abundance is more pronounced.
Southern Tiger cats tend to avoid areas where the Ocelot is found in large numbers. As a generalist carnivore and the largest and most adaptable of the small cat species in tropical America, the Ocelot dominates the other small cat species. In fact the Southern Tiger Cats are in fear of being the prey of these Ocelots. This negative effect on other small cat species is known to scientists as “the ocelot effect”. When Ocelots inhabit protected areas, the smaller cats can be forced into adjacent unprotected areas, where the threat of habitat loss and human interaction is greater.
The Southern Tiger cat has been observed as being a solitary felid. It is active predominantly at night, but can also show varying degrees of diurnal activity. This activity during any time of the day is suggested as a strategy to avoid the Ocelot. On the other hand, Tiger Cat numbers are not affected by the presence of the Margay and Jaguarundi, which are more likely potential competitors for similar sized prey.
Tiger cats are excellent climbers, but spend most of their time on the ground as most of their prey is terrestrial. When threatened, they show an aggressive behavior with arched back and raised hair, besides showing the teeth and producing a “whistling-spitting” vocalization.
The Southern Tiger cat’s diet is still very poorly studied, but is known to consist mostly of small mammals, birds and reptiles (especially lizards) and can include larger prey over 1 kg. This suggests that this small felid is a generalist predator, taking advantage of the most readily available resources in the area.
Very little information about the Tiger cat’s reproduction in the wild is available. Reproduction occurs year round, but could show different peaks in different areas. The gestation period lasts for 75-78 days, after which 1 to 3 kittens are born, but the normal litter is just one. The eyes are open at around 8 to 17 days. Weaning occurs at two to three months and young are about adult body size at 11 months of age. These felids are reported to have a lifespan ofs 15 – 21 years.
Southern Tiger Cat Conservation and Research organisations report that the global conservation status for the Southern Tiger Cat is Vulnerable (VU) and populations are declining. One of the Organisation dedicated to research and conservation of the smaller cats of Latin America: is the Institute Pro-Carnivores – Wild Cats of Brazil. Here is thier Carnivores – webpage showing the Shouthern Tiger Cat.
A group of Organisations dedicated to saving animals from extinction
Yes it’s me Oscar. As you may know I help Ed with this blog quite a lot, so have been able to pull a few string to get myself on the front page again this month. I reminded Ed that it’s my birthday this week, and I’m 5 Years Old. Ed said “yes I know you silly puss cat” and proceeeded to open my Birthday Card and fetch me a tasty tin of my favourite fish treat.
When he got back I asked him “as it’s my special week can I please, please, be Cat of the month?”. Ed thought for a bit and then said “…mmmm I’m not sure, Osc you’ve already had that honor bestowed upon you and there are so many brave and beautiful cats to choose from out there, I can’t fit em all in”.
Like a lot of countries at the moment, we are all here in Lockdown in England and it’s been a time of reflection for those humans and for us cats too (oh yes, I’ve been chatting with my pals out the back there as we cats are immune to that bat bug so can get up to all kinds of antics). Anyway, I too have been looking back at things, now that I’ve reached the splendid age of five.
When I was adopted from the Rescue Shelter I was a timid thing who would slink around and jump if anyone even came in the room. Four years on I am still a very shy guy but I do walk with a bit more pride and confidence in myself and my own beauty. I still hate the doorbell with a vengeance and run behind the sofa if it goes off, but luckily it has been quiet since March of this year!
I don’t like to admit it but I’m still not good at handling quick movements of humans at all, even when I know they are around. They still catch me by suprise by just coming into the room and I often cower away as I’m taken aback with a bolt of fear…. I think something happened to me as a kitten, but I can’t now recall what it was these days … well after all I am five now, and it was such a long time ago.
Cat of the Month ~ May 2020
Photograph: Ed, who else
I sincerly hope that all those cats out there in Lockdown are OK, and that humans, if at all possible, can continue to contribute to the good work of cat and animal rescue organisations at this time, when they need it more than ever. After all it’s where I came from, and without these places lots of cats would be in the sour milk for sure. I for one wouldn’t be here. I’va asked my mate Ed to put a link in to one of the charities close to my heart below, so if you can spare a few coppers please? … them cats n’ dogs’ll benefit from it, for sure.
Dear readers, I’ve had a lovely birthday week and am feeling particularly magnamimous at the moment “where did you learn a word like that Osc”, Ed so, please take good care of yourselves in this beautiful month of May and, do as we cats do – hunker down in a nice soft patch and let the days and other creatures go by – with the odd break for scran, stalking, hunting, climbing, exploring and generally putting a nose in where it’s sometimes not wanted
Bye for now, I’m off out in that yard to see what’s going down. Yup, I’m a really cool grown up Cat.
Théophile Alexandre Steinlen was born in Lausanne, Switzerland on 10th November 1869. Little is recorded of his childhood, but he went on to study at the University of Lausanne before taking a job as a designer trainee at a textile mill in Mulhouse in eastern France.
Steinlen is well-known for being very fond of Cats. He was fascinated by them and drew, painted and sculpted them many times. He tried to capture each subtlety of their poses and movements, and from looking at his works we can see he has achieved his goal.
Moving with his new wife to the Montmartre Quarter of Paris at the age of 21, Steinlen was befriended by the illustrator Adolphe Willette, who introduced him to the avant-garde literary and artistic environment of the Chat Noir cabaret which had been founded not long before.
His house on the Rue Caulaincourt was, according to contemporary accounts, a meeting place for all the cats of the arrondissement. In his early years as an artist, he would sell drawings of cats in exchange for food, and in later years a cat began to be incorporated in many of his drawings, magazine illustrations, lithographs or posters, almost to the point of being his unique personal trade mark.
Steinlens’ talent was spotted by owner of the ‘Chat Noir’ Caberet club, Aristide Bruant and he commissioned Théophile to do poster art and illustrations of its satirical and humorous journal, also called ‘Chat Noir’
Steinlen went on to form artistic collaborations with writers such as Emile Zola, poets such as Jean Richepin, composers such as Paul Delmet, artists such as Toulouse-Lautrec, all of whom he encountered at Le Chat Noir.
Cat of the Month ~ April 2020
In the early 1890s, Steinlen’s paintings of rural landscapes, flowers, and nudes were being shown at the Salon des Indépendants. Throughout Steinlen’s life Montmartre became a favorite subject of his work and he often painted scenes of some of the harsher aspects of life in the area. Steinlen undoutedly had a great love and admiration for cats of all kinds, as is seen in his paintings, sketches and sculpture. Cats often find thier way into his paintings of street scenes and alongside the characters he saw on the streets of Paris.
Théophile Steinlen died in 1923 in Paris and was buried in the Cimetière Saint-Vincent in Montmartre.
Today, his works can be found at many museums around the world including at the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, Russia. and the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., United States.